Note: These two days in Athens were originally part of a A Week in Greece, right after Santorini.
It was almost two hours past midnight when we arrived in Athens after a 50-minute flight. Getting to Small Funny World was no sweat as it was only one bus ride away and we just needed to get off at the last stop. Looking for it may have been a bit of a challenge but walking to it was another story with the city looking so aged and serene.
Day 1 – The Acropolis, Temple of Olympian Zeus & Old Royal Palace
With our first destination in the capital being the Parthenon, having an early
birdie start would’ve been the way (a no-brainer, really) but given our late arrival in the city, we didn’t pursue it. On our way to the Acropolis we passed by the Roman Agora where I learned that you can buy bundled tickets for multiple sites. Since we were only eyeing the Acropolis, nah~ Also, tickets are cheaper in winter months.
At the foot of the Acropolis, near its entrance, is a rock called Areopagus which offers a closer look of the fortress and views of the city, Lycabettus Hill, and Philopappos Hill.
The entrance to the Acropolis almost led me to believe that there’s forever (what you get for being a sleepyhead). We opted to walk past it and headed to the other side and found another entrance there. With less people! (Yeah, yeah, I could’ve simply Googled it.)
If you’re into museums, there’s the Acropolis Museum. I don’t really fancy them that much so I instead just went to the subway and took photos of some sculptures there. Talk about being a cheapskate! Jeje!
On the way to the Parthenon you could see other structures such as the Theatre of Dionysus, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, and the Acropolis’ propylaea (if you miss the last one, then you’re probably blessed with the gift of flight).
As soon as you survive this gateway (big word) you will be immediately greeted by the temple dedicated to Athena.
The temple is still being restored up to this day and lucky are those who’ll see it completed. As expected, there was no joking about the number of tourists. And that, my friend, is why you should be at your earliest.
You have no idea how much sacrifice I went through to eliminate the enemies. (Eliminate them!)
Also on the citadel is the Hekatompedon Temple.
There’s still a viewpoint even if essentially the entire rocky outcrop is one. It’s a vantage point for the city and you get other perspectives of Philopappos Hill, Lycabettus Hill, Acropolis Museum, Theatre of Dionysus, and Odeon of Herodes Atticus.
You get to see as well the Areopagus and, from a distance, the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
I don’t really have any point of comparison as it was my first time in Europe but I was told that Greece is relatively cheaper compared to other countries. I didn’t even know that the country had (or has?) a crisis until a former colleague asked how things were doing there. Anyhoo, another set of magnets and a souvlaki for lunch!
The wonderful thing about Athens is you can actually just walk to a lot of tourist spots. After our late lunch we headed off to the Temple of Olympian Zeus and passed by Hadrian’s Gate along the way.
The structure has a perimeter so you can only go around it and not swagger like a god or goddess between its pillars. The site offered a nice view of the Acropolis without obstructions.
As nightfall crept we made our way to the Old Royal Palace, the building that greeted us when we arrived, and arrived just in time to witness the guards in action. It’s a must if you must, I must say.
Across the palace is Syntagma Square, the city’s central square where there’s hustle and bustle. Past it were shops and streetcorners where there are more hullabaloos and thingamajigs. It wasn’t part of the plan but I scored an H&M shirt there. La lang~
Close to our hostel was a pasta place similar to Subway, where you select the pasta, sauce, and toppings of your choice. It became a go-to for us because of its prices (and taste, ‘course!).
I’ve always been someone who tries to look at things day and night (literally) so the day (or night?) didn’t just end with dinner. Illuminated streets are always mine for the taking! *howls like Remus*
Seeing the Old Royal Palace up-close with the lights on and the guards still in position made me realize that I didn’t notice them at all when we arrived.
Even if it was already close to midnight we were still strolling in the National Gardens. In it is the Zappeion which you could also gawk at with admiration.
Day 2 – The Panathenaic Stadium & Athenian Trilogy
Among my memories of our last hostel was my coughing. It actually started in Santorini that I had to buy medicines there. So there I was, in the room, coughing and waiting for my last breath, with another guest joining me and together we formed an orchestra of coughing. Then, in the midst of it all, as we were about to reach our crescendo, another guest makes a remark about our performance.
Guest: Oh, my God. This is the room of the cough.
Cougher: Out of our control. That’s a risk for staying at a hostel.
Guest: Don’t get mad~
Cougher: I know. I’m just saying.
Would’ve bought that lady all the beers that she wanted in the country. She was also so right about us covering our mouths when coughing our lungs out. No blood was shed and in the end we all still had our short lives to keep.
Not that it has feelings, but to make things fair, the Zappeion was also paid a visit opposite to the lighting when it was first sighted. Of course that also meant another visit to the gardens. Twinning~!
The Panathenaic Stadium was up next and on our way to it we came across mobile toilets that looked really winsome. Quite enticing that I would’ve probably taken a dump had I taken more time in front of it.
Rummaging through my memories and considering that an arena is different given that it’s enclosed, I don’t think I’ve actually ever been to a stadium so seeing the only one in the world built entirely of marble first was pretty ecstatic.
It’s gotta be a sin not to adore, in all angles, the venue of the first modern Olympics. Show some athleticism and gimme that damn Olympic torch!
Tried some street food before heading to our final destination.
Conveniently located next to each other, the Athenian Trilogy is composed of the Academy of Athens, University of Athens, and National Library of Greece. Trust me when I say that I’ve never encountered a better threesome in my life.
The trip was practically over after ogling those three but on the walk back to Plaka there was another troika. (My eyes!)
Plaka is the old historical neighborhood of the city which also houses many shops. Wrapping up the pasalubongs were more miniatures and some caramelized nuts.
Since all the sites that we visited were accessible by foot, we never really got the chance to try the subway. So just for the heck of it, we got on a train and got off just at the next station, a distance we could’ve walked in a heartbeat.
When we resurfaced there was a protest but thankfully there was no violence so all was geed.
Our flight out the following day was a tad early but that didn’t stop us from having a few cans on the hostel’s topmost floor with our Korean roommate who was traveling around Europe before his dreaded military service, the Germans who I assumed was a couple, and the Brazilian who went from Puerto Princesa to El Nido, Palawan on just a motorcycle with another tourist! Good times, good laughs. *inserts grinning emoji*